Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of the month.
I’ve had a wonderful reading month, thanks to serendipitous selections (like two took-me-by-surprise titles you’ll see below) and a camping trip, which meant lots of time reading by the lake.
While today’s round-up leans heavily towards 2021 releases—including three out this month—I’ve enjoyed a nice mix of brand-new releases and older titles lately. (And I just started the forthcoming Louise Penny last night, so stay tuned …)
This is just a sampling of the books I’ve read since our last round of Quick Lit. If you’re interested in hearing more about my recent reads, I highly recommend tuning into my podcast What Should I Read Next. In a show about books, I can’t help but discuss my current reading. (I also share what I’m currently reading in our weekly podcast newsletter: if you aren’t already signed up, click here to get on the list.)
I can’t wait to hear about your recent reads in comments.
Short and sweet reviews on what I’ve been reading lately
I've been meaning to read this for years and finally crossed it off my list this month. This sweet Southern story was described to me as a nice, heartwarming read, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen. It begins when Anna Kate is summoned from her med school studies in Boston to a small Alabama town, because if she is to inherit the famed Blackbird Café her Granny Zee left her in her will, she first must run it for two months. Anna Kate has no intentions of getting sucked back in to small town life—especially not the small town of Wicklow, with its robust gossip network and magical blackbirds—but, well, you can guess what actually happens in a story like this. A fast, enjoyable read. More info →
I just finished rereading this (again) to prep for this week's episode of One Great Book. Full of twists, turns, and biting social commentary, this highly original (and highly discussable) debut novel will leave you with your jaw on the floor. Editorial assistant Nella Rogers is thrilled when Wagner Books hires another Black woman. Finally, she won’t be the sole Black voice at the publisher, she won’t endure microaggressions alone, and maybe she’ll even make some progress on her stalled-out racial diversity efforts. But new hire Hazel doesn’t turn out to be the ally and friend she expected. Meanwhile, threatening notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk, saying LEAVE WAGNER NOW. The atmosphere grows ever creepier as Nella tries to befriend Hazel, while surreptitiously investigating her past. The ending left me gobsmacked: I was desperate to discuss it with a fellow reader asap. More info →
This might be the best thing I read this month, but what to say about it? When her husband is confined to a Nova Scotia hospital after a terrible fishing accident, a mother not much older than me is left to parent her teenage boys—"the wolves"—alone. But things have been hard for a while now: in this insular Maine fishing community, the fish aren't biting like they once did. Money is perpetually tight. Not long before, the family was dealt a terrible blow, and one son is still wracked by grief. And even absent an immediate crisis, parenting teenage boys is grueling. I did not want to put this down, although I paused many times along the way to text my fellow parents of teenage boys. I loved the bracing portrayal of a family on the brink, the gripping tone that says with every line I'm not sure how I'll get through this. My whole heart was wrapped up in this short family story. More info →
This book was a delightful surprise. I'm so glad I picked it up! Theirs was a fake relationship forged to manipulate optics and better careers: born in London to Indian parents, A-list actress Win Tagore never knows how to describe herself in a way that will satisfy the press. She just knows that as a woman of color, a single mistake could ruin everything she's worked so hard to build. Trust fund kid Leo Milanowski never wants for money or attention, thanks to his hotelier parents. Love isn't on his radar—but he could use a friend. The two strike up a friendship when they're thrown together at a much-photographed gala, and Win's publicist transforms their connection into an on-again, off-again relationship—or at least that's how they engineer things to appear. But when someone starts to develop real feelings, their comfortable arrangement threatens to blow up—in the headlines. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Tania Rodrigues, and it was wonderful. This is no rom-com: I'm curious how print readers feel, but the audiobook "read" very literary. I loved it. More info →
Happy book birthday to Helen Ellis's latest, which just came out on Tuesday. Ellis specializes in making light of the deadly serious: bad relationships and bad mammograms, getting older and losing those we love. But she does all this with the irreverent, razor-sharp wit fans of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code will remember. I'm so happy that Helen chose to write about her professional poker experience in "There’s a Lady at the Poker Table," and as a longtime Judy Blume fan of course I giggled (and cringed, because yikes) through "Are You There Menopause? It’s Me, Helen." More info →
I'm grateful my friend Kendra put this business book on my radar. Rodgers's chief assertion is that money talks, and therefore until women—and particularly Black women—have economic power, equality will remain out of reach. She argues why it's good—both individually and collectively—for women to increase their incomes, and shares how she did it in her own life, and how you can do it, too. I found this to be illuminating as well as a lot of FUN to read; I loved Rodgers's smart and snappy style. When I finished my egalley, I promptly ordered the hardcover for my 14yo daughter, who's expressed a desire to learn more about money lately. (This will make a great companion to Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You to Be Rich.) I can't wait to discuss it with her. More info →
File this one under "What Should I Read Next made me do it." When I recommended Alyan's debut to an upcoming WSIRN guest, I was reminded that she had a new book out, published in March. This new novel is significantly longer than Salt Houses, clocking in at nearly 500 pages and 20 hours of listening time, but I'm so glad I downloaded the audiobook anyway. I was quickly swept up in the story of the complicated Nasr family, with its Syrian mother, Lebanese father, and three adult children flung across the globe. If you enjoyed Marjan Kamali's The Stationery Shop, I urge you to consider The Arsonists' City for your TBR. Alyan's story, while a bit edgier (I'm thinking specifically of drug use), has a similar feel. Leila Buck's narration was outstanding. More info →
What have YOU been reading lately? Tell us about your recent reads—or share the link to a blog or instagram post about them—in comments.